What if Puerto Rico became part of Spain again?

The news that a teacher named Annette Falcón said in a UN commission that it would be good for Puerto Rico to rejoin Spain The question has elicited two kinds of responses. Part of the right, excited by this foreign affection, exaggerated the status of the spokesperson by saying that she was a “parliamentarian” representing a political party. Part of the left, with a pseudo “verifying” media behind it, arrogantly dismissed it by saying that she was a simple teacher from a cultural association. The first ones were informed only through the networks, and the second ones hid information..

What these “verifiers” do not say is that Puerto Ricans are today second-class citizens: they cannot vote in presidential elections nor do they have congressmen. Nor do they mention that those Puerto Ricans maintain that They do not want what happened with the states taken by the United States from Mexico in the war of 1846 to happen again.to 1848where Spanish culture was outlawed.

Mrs. Falcón belongs to Adelante Reunificacióncionistas. It is not a mass society, nor is there a party behind it, but there is a respectable opinion in her country. If we look at the polls, between 10% and 20% of Puerto Ricans would not see a bad return to Spain. That does not mean that it is their priority, nor that they do not prefer to be another State of the United States, which they are not now. The important thing about Falcón’s statement at the UN is that they have been told a lie that they are fighting against.

Perhaps this is what bothers the woke left, because the falsehood that Falcón denounced is that Spain kept Puerto Rico in the dark, oppression and povertyOn its website, this cultural association has a document titled “Was Puerto Rico wearing loincloths before 1898?”

The complaint is that official propaganda tells them that they were a primitive people before the US invasion because of the Spanish and that they had no education, no house or food. In this way, modernity would have arrived with the North Americans, who brought the island out of obscurity. In this document, the association incorporates one hundred arguments that refute this statement.. Before 1898, there were four banks in Puerto Rico to autonomously boost its economy: the Spanish Bank of Puerto Ricothe Territorial and Agricultural, the Popular and the Banco Crédito y Ahorro Ponceño.

Their operations were exactly the same as those of any European entity. In addition, San Juan, Ponce and Mayagüez, the main cities, had street lighting, like the provincial capitals in Spain, and had trams. In Madrid, for example, the first tram was inaugurated in 1871, and in Mayagüez in 1872, the following year.

own deputies

In 1890, the first concessions for Puerto Rican telephone service monopolies appeared, when ten years earlier they had been granted to the mother country. The San Juan, Puerto Rico Telephone Network, prior to 1898, provided a user manual for the device with monthly rates. It had almost a thousand subscribers, while Barcelona, ​​in 1900, reached 2,767, Madrid 1,844, Valencia 982 and Zaragoza 500. This means that San Juan de Puerto Rico, with a population close to 100,000 people at the end of the 19th century, was like a medium-sized peninsular province, similar to Murcia or the capital of Aragon.

The telegraph was installed in Puerto Rico in 1869 between San Juan, Río Piedras and Arecibo, dependent on the Postal Administrationwhich worked in the same way as in Spain. In the 1870s, submarine cables were installed to connect Puerto Rico with Cuba, Jamaica and the United States. In total, there were 43 Puerto Rican towns connected by telegraph in four districts.

Education in Puerto Rico was also at the same level as in the Peninsula. There was no University, but neither was there in many Spanish provinces, although there was a School of Pharmacy, another School of Chemistry and one more for English and French, as well as a network of public and private schools and institutes. The island had its own Bar Association and its Press Association, because numerous widely circulated newspapers were published on the island. Among others, “La Mujer” was published, a “women’s magazine” on fashion and other subjects that in those days were supposed to be exclusively for women. Similar magazines existed in Spain.

This meant that, logically, there was a Puerto Rican audience for these publications that gathered in casinos, clubs, restaurants and theaters just as on the Peninsula. Puerto Rico had its own deputies in the Spanish Cortes since 1809. The first was Ramón Power y Giralt, born in San Juan. They repeated representation during The Liberal Triennium and between 1834 and 1836, then electing two deputies. The Revolution of 1868 established a Provincial Council in Puerto Rico, as in the Peninsula. This opened political life, establishing two parties of its own: the Liberal Reformist and the Liberal Conservative.

In the first were the assimilists, who wanted equality with the rest of the provinces but with reforms, and the autonomists, who aspired to their own government within Spain. In the second party were those who wanted administrative equality with the Spanish provinces.

Each one founded his own newspaper, the reformists, El Progreso, and the conservatives, El Boletín Mercantil. Puerto Rico had eleven elected representatives in the Cortes of 1869, fifteen in the Congress of 1871, with politicians as important to the island as Francisco Mariano Quiñones, who promoted and achieved the abolition of slavery in Puerto Rico, and was the first president of the Puerto Rican autonomous government in 1897. It also had senators in 1871 and 1872. All elected by universal male suffrage.

The flag of Puerto Rico was changed in 1873. Until then it was the coat of arms established in 1511 on a white background – it is the current one of the Commonwealth of Puerto Rico – with the symbols of Castile and León and The Catholic kingsand the cross of Jerusalem. In 1873 the white background was changed to a red one with a yellow cross, which were the colours of the Spanish flag.

Puerto Rican representation continued in the Cortes of the Restoration, evidencing a desire to establish autonomy for the island. The slowness in establishing reforms led to the founding of the Puerto Rican Autonomist Party in Ponce, Puerto Rico, in 1887, led by Ramón Baldorioty de Castro. In the Peninsula, it was viewed with fear, assimilating autonomy to separatism, largely because that was how it was in Cuba.

Antonio Maura, Minister of Overseas Affairs in the Sagasta government, presented a Statute of Autonomy for Puerto Rico and Cuba to the Congress of Deputies in 1893. It was not approved until 1897, too late. Even so, the Statute established an island parliament formed by universal male suffrage, with its own government that included all powers except Foreign Affairs, Navy and War, together with a Governor General elected by the Government of Spain so as not to lose the link. In addition, Puerto Ricans could elect 16 deputies to Congress and 3 senators.

There was no equal autonomy in the world that was closer to independence than that of Puerto Rico. This did not serve to prevent the US invasion in 1898, after bombing San Juan. The North American administration defined the territory as unincorporated and organized it at the level of Guam, the Northern Mariana Islands, or the US Virgin Islands. Today Puerto Ricans are not full citizens, on equal terms with North Americans. Hence comes the opinion that autonomy with Spain would be an advance for them.

Romantic adventure turned into a nightmare

There is a precedent back to the Kingdom of Spain and it is not good. In 1860, Santo Domingo asked to rejoin the motherland. The reason was that they did not see themselves able to withstand the pressure from Haiti, their island neighbors. The Haitians had occupied Santo Domingo for 22 years, between 1821 and 1843, imposing a dictatorship. The Dominicans asked the Spanish Government to return as a province to obtain protection. That’s how it went.

The reincorporation was on May 19, 1861. The problem was that Spain supported the Confederacy that year in the North American Civil War, and the US response was to support the Dominican independentists. This caused a war in Santo Domingo with thousands of deaths, which lasted until 1865, when Narváez, president of the Government, promoted the decree to abandon the island in a romantic adventure that turned into a nightmare.